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December 2018 / January 2019
Album review

Empress Of - Us

‘Us’ is more playful but remains as raw and heartfelt as her debut.
Label: Terrible Records
Released: 19th October 2018
Rating: ★★★★
Empress Of - Us
Published: 6:38 am, October 16, 2018Words: Abigail Firth.

Where Lorely Rodriguez’s last album – 2015’s ‘Me’ – focused on herself, ‘Us’ is more playful but remains as raw and heartfelt as her debut.

There’s so much fun in songs that shouldn’t be. ‘Timberlands’ has pretty ballad-y lyrics propped up by some 80’s keyboards. Similar can be said of ‘I’ve Got Love’, although that plays out as more of a self-love anthem.

It’s those juxtapositions that make lead single ‘Trust Me Baby’ even more isolated in the context of the album. It’s the one track that’s really about yearning and desire, so why does it feel the least compelling?

It’s certainly not a representation of the record. The other nine tracks are far bouncier and more exciting, and it sounds a bit dull sandwiched in between ‘Just the Same’ and ‘Love for Me’.

A lot of these tracks are made far more interesting by Lorely’s voice. It’s got so much character; it gives plenty of life to simple, repetitive choruses like “you say that you love me/ I wanna know if you got love for me/ I wanna know if you got love for me”.

‘When I’m With Him’ arrives second to last as the LP’s highlight. It’s a welcome change of tone – it’s a super melancholy, almost-breakup song which ends up being the most believable.

Empress Of is entirely her own on ‘Us’. She notes she produced “about 70 percent” of the album, and it shows. No one else is really filling that gap between indie pop and experimental R&B. She keeps her experimental production but adds in catchy hooks, and it leaves her sounding like a more accessible version of FKA Twigs or Grimes.

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